Netanyahu Pledges No More Terrorist Releases

YERUSHALAYIM -

During a pitch to right-wing voters, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised on Sunday that he would release no more terrorist prisoners in future deals.

“That’s all in the past,” he told Arutz Sheva in a wide-ranging interview.

Another matter that Netanyahu relegated to the past was his Bar Ilan of 2009, in which he came out for a two-state solution.

“That was said at the time when the Middle East was in a different place… but right now I say — the Middle East has changed,” he declared, citing the so-called “Arab spring,” which he said had become an “Islamist Winter.”

“Any territory that we give up is taken immediately by the forces of terrorists who use it to bombard our territory with thousands of rockets.”

However, on another contentious issue he stood fast. Netanyahu reiterated his policy of maintaining the status quo at Har Habayis, despite agitation among some national-religious leaders and activists to expand Jewish access to the site.

“We could ignite a great religious war against a billion Muslims,” by changing things, he said. “I stand up for Israel, Har Habyis is very dear to me… but I wouldn’t change the status quo and create a religious war.”

If Likud wins the elections, Netanyahu pledged to form “a nationalist government that is stable, and not a divided government in which the likes of Tzipi and Lapid undermine our position.”

He said that right-wing voters “don’t have the luxury” of voting for other nationalist parties that can’t win.

“Jewish Home will be a partner in the government in a senior position whatever happens,” he said.

The interview, conducted in English for the sizable English-speaking sector which Netanyahu hopes to lure away from Jewish Home, took place just hours before a major nationalist rally in Tel Aviv, where the prime minister, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, among others, participated.

Organizers of the event claimed 100,000 attended.